The Federal Government has declared the current two-week warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities illegal. It accused ASUU of not following laid down procedures before embarking on the industrial action.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, gave the government’s position in Abuja after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday. He said ASUU did not give the government the “mandatory notice” required before a union could proceed on strike.
Ngige noted that having failed to follow the laid down procedures, it amounted to corruption for the university teachers to go on strike. The minister said, “I am in shock. The strike is illegal because they did not give us the mandatory notice.
“If you withdraw services and you still want to be paid, it is corruption. Is that not corruption?” Ngige, however, added that he had contacted the leadership of ASUU and invited it to a meeting on Thursday (today) to discuss the issues raised by the union.
But he warned that the government would not succumb to threats by ASUU, arguing that “no employee should dictate to an employer.”
ASUU, while declaring the warning strike, had stated that the government had yet to address issues raised in agreements it reached with the union from 2009 to 2019, including poor funding of the university system.
An immediate issue is the union’s opposition to the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System of the government, which is designed to capture all Federal Government workers under one payment system.
The government’s target is to eliminate ‘ghost workers.’ But, ASUU has consistently kicked against it on the grounds that it would not suit the university system.
In place of the IPPIS, the union proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which it said would address the peculiar case of the universities.
When asked for the government’s final stance on the IPPIS, Ngige replied that after the union visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), earlier in the year, the government stood its ground on the IPPIS.
However, he stated that both sides agreed that the IPPIS and ASUU’s UTAS could be harmonised after all the grey areas had been sorted out.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has rescheduled its meeting with officials of the Federal Government and the leadership of ASUU.
The House had on Tuesday resolved to intervene in the crisis over the government’s failure to implement the agreements it reached with the university lecturers in 2019.
The leadership of the House had scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige; and President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, on Wednesday.
The meeting, however, did not hold. The Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Mr Lanre Lasisi, informed our correspondent that the meeting would now hold at 9am on Thursday (today).aa